During the past nine months we have been experiencing various spiritual practices and forms for prayer. We have practiced the prayer of examen, the Jesus Prayer, and lectio divina. We have thought deeply and begun to practice intentional listening and hospitality. This month as we move into our summer schedule where the pace of life slows down at the church, I would invite us to turn our attention outward.
In the loose-leaf resource book, “Lord, Teach me to Pray,” there is a short article on praying with the newspaper. I know many of you still receive a newspaper daily, others get their news online, on TV, over the radio, or through an app on their phone. Regardless of where you find your news, this is a prayer practice that can deepen your experience of prayer.
Here are some simple steps to use in praying with the newspaper – based on the lectio divina practice for praying with scripture. After beginning with a prayer to consciously invite God to be part of your reading, choose an article for your prayer. Don’t spend too much time of this step – what article looks interesting? What article would you like to spend more time with? Then read that article slowly, looking for one word or phrase that stands out to you. Next, read the article a second time. As you read, prayerfully listen for that word or phrase and pay attention to the feelings and thoughts that come to you as you hear the text. Then sit with that word or phrase, mulling it over, chewing on it. What is it about that word or phrase that is speaking to you this particular day? Does it remind you of a particular bible passage or biblical theme? How does this article intersect with what you know of God and our world? Finally, read the article one last time, this time asking “how may I pray?” Take time to pray, using the insights you have gained to guide your prayer.
This morning I prayed with an article on the prevalence of concussions in sports as my text for the day. A phrase in the article stood out for me “sports are vital.” I wondered and prayed with the word “vital.” Are sports vital? Are they “life-giving, essential?” My prayer led me instead to focus on the participants in the sports, the vital young men and women who are affected by a lack of safety awareness, and whose lives may be altered. The article focused on one young woman, but my prayer led me to those I know who have suffered concussions in the last year. And it is for them that I prayed. For Ann, for Joe: ‘may the injuries they have suffered not follow them the rest of their lives. May their brains fully recover. May they be vital and full of life.’ My prayers continued - for coaches and players, parents and teachers, and the young woman named in the article. By spending time with this particular news story in prayer my own awareness of God’s work in the world was increased, and I prayed for young people for whom I would not otherwise have remembered to include in my prayers this morning.
Join me this month in praying with the news, in whatever form you encounter it. Breathe deeply the more relaxed air of summer (once it arrives) and invite God to show you how to pray.
With thanks for your prayers,